Death on the Nile
by Agatha Christie (1937)
William Morrow (2011)
I‘ve not read my fair share of Agatha Christie novels, though I’ve tried to read the ones I hear most about: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None. I liked each of these (and the few others I’ve read, particularly A Murder Is Announced), and I love And Then There Were None. It’s one of my favorite books period. I decided that I should continue to hit what appear to me to be the high marks and a few years ago bought Death on the Nile.
This book took me a very long time to read. I started it four or five times over the course of those few years, but I had a hard time getting through the setup. I am familiar with the sense of disorientation as Christie introduces us to a large cast of characters, usually by placing us in the middle of their conversations. Well, earlier this year I finally broke through (about page 25 is all) and felt like I’d finish the book in a day or two, as I had with the others. After all, I didn’t care if the book turned out to be great, but I did want it to eventually be fun. That was not the case.
I found Death in the Nile exceedingly dull, and, though I wouldn’t want to tell Christie to do anything different, for me having the titular death happen halfway through the book kind of took the wind out. It didn’t help that even before the death happened I already had strong suspicions about the solution, which turned out to be right. This made Hercule Poirot’s sometimes tiresome proclivities even more tiresome.
All in all this short book took me a month to read because I just never really wanted to pick it up. Why did I anyway? Well, because this is one of her best known works, and I kept assuming I’d start to free fall through its pages, have the fun I was seeking, and realize I was the problem!
I’m writing this post not because I want to analyze the book or even “review” it. I’m not going to attempt to lay out any characters or the plot. This is more like a blog post of yore, where I record a few thoughts with the intention of getting some help, either here in the comments, via email, on Twitter, or Goodreads, etc. I hope to get help with at least two things:
1) I’d love to hear from some who like Death on the Nile. I promise I will not argue with you. I’m comfortable that I got off on the wrong foot with it and that there is a lot to enjoy that didn’t strike me. I do like hearing enthusiasm, even for a book I don’t like. If you’ll just let me know!
2) I’d love to hear about other Christie books that are favorites. I’ve barely dipped into her work, and I’ve read only one with Miss Marple. On the strength of And Then There Were None alone I feel the desire to keep reading. Most of my knowledge of what’s considered her best comes from what ones have been adapted into well known films, and I don’t think that’s actually the best way to find the gems.
So, there are some brief thoughts (or something like thoughts) on a famous Agatha Christie book from someone who really has no business opining on her work. I hope you’ll forgive my indulgence and, if you’re so inclined, please let me know your own thoughts.